Rwanda update — Network and HRFRA progress MoU implementation + the Network provides a  representation to British High Commission Rwanda on formal request for support  from relevant UK Government departments in line with the MoU and FCDO policy statement on LGBT human rights

We are very pleased to update that further to the recent signing of an MoU between the Human Rights First Rwanda Association( HRFRA) Government of Rwanda registered (2005) human rights organisation (, the Network and the lead officers of the HRFRA have agreed to establish by the Network, through the HRFRA – Network MoU and partnership, ground-breaking support to the LGBT+ and especially LGBTQ+ Rwandan community members first, and subsequently to mental healthcare providers in Rwanda. 

This ahead of support guidance assistance to the Government of Rwanda and British High Commission Rwanda in regard to basic to more applied grassroots level supportive engagement. This being at policy level in regard to not only LGBT+ & LGBTQ+ Rwandan community members, but also for global/international LGBT+ & LGBTQ+ community members – UK asylum and refugees applicants — that under the Governments’ of the UK (’Home Office’) and Rwanda are envisaged to be sent to Rwanda in 2023.

We are aware in the case of the UK Government that due to the deportations agreement with the Government of Rwanda, that the UK Government has in terms of ethics and under relevant UK laws and policies, and policy statements from the FCDO (Foreign and Commonwealth & Development Office) and especially the Home Office – which has a long established well-documented and evidenced record of controversial decisions on LGBT related immigration applications by incontestably genuine international LGBT+ community members in positions of extreme oppression, including risk to life because of their sexual orientation or gender identity – the UK Government has an obligation to honour their words, and to support the Government of Rwanda in regard to transformational support for all sections of the LGBT community of Rwanda. 

In addition, our intervention will provide a measure of support to ensure institution of protections for LGBT+ international members whom the UK Government is planning to deport to Rwanda that has a 90% ‘not a good place for LGBT people’ rating ( 

We have therefore made a representation to the British High Commissioner for Rwanda in regard to obligations ethical and legal, and have the strong support ay CEO level of the Stonewall organisation that has long warned the UK Government of the complete unsuitability of Rwanda as a location for LGBT+ community members to be deported to.  Uniquely in our Network case, we have been kindly provided by HRFRA with direct evidence of the grim realities in Rwanda for LGBT+ & LGBTQ+ community members. 

Because of the Home Office agreement, and the obligations it imposes on the Home Office directly AND at a secondary level the FCDO (the FCDO plays at admin level a major function in regard to visa/asylum/refugee status applications for those outside of the UK) we will be pressing to TAKE RWANDA, THAT HAS AN ALMOST ZERO LEVEL ‘ON THE GROUND’ LGBT COMMUNITY LEVEL SUPPORT AND ENGAGEMENT STRUCTURE, TO TAKE RWANDA WITHIN NOT LESS THAN TWO YEARS TO A MEDIUM RANKING INTERNATIONAL COMPETENT LGBT COMMUNITY [evidenced] SUPPORTIVE STATE.

The Network will provide an update on this action later in November.

Bourne Free Pride 2022 — Network congratulations to the Bourne Free Team for a fantastic Pride:

The LGBT+ Network for Change congratulates the brilliant Bourne Free Team for their great work in enabling a fantastic Pride! Bourne Free 2022 received wonderful attendance and acclaim from community members and LGBT+ allies, and also in the local news media:

One of our volunteer/advisor team whose ‘drag artiste’ name is ‘Venezuela D’Viña’ provided fantastic ‘drag’ performances (we/the Network were very pleased to introduce to the Bourne Free Team earlier this year when performance line-ups were being considered), sharing not only glamour but great artistic talent. Venezuala D’Vina, was also enabled to represent the Dorset Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust in the Parade. This opportunity marking the major work and success of collaboration between the Trust and the Network, through Dorset Healthcare’s Steps 2 Wellbeing programme, that has been receiving information resources and training from Network lead Alan Mercel-Sanca, with major transformational impacts.

Outside of Pride itself, Bourne Free’s support to the Network — as with other organisations and LGBT+ and Allies work and causes — plays a greatly appreciated part in contributing to our work which is focused on meaningful effective support to some of the most vulnerable, persecuted, and overlooked sections of our LGBT+ & LGBTQ+ community, AND in regard to giving Network partners such as Dorset Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust healthcare professionals and other staff at programmes and services, such as Steps 2 Wellbeing, the support they need to make a difference to LGBT+ & LGBTQ+ lives! Well done again to the Bourne Free Team!

Network LGBTQ+ homeless community support initiative sees further breakthroughs, and our initiative with the Prison Service advances strongly: 

The Network, with funding support from Bourne Free, Dorset Community Foundation for aspects of our BCP area initiative, and also including for the larger pan-Dorset and related national level outreach work for the initiative, helped us to provide and deliver next phase key elements of the latter, particularly through resources development for FE colleges, and for other programmes, such as CAMHS and CMHT for the NHS, developing a police resource for criminality and exploitation aspects

Albert Kennedy Trust (AKT): AKT is  the UK’s most respected LGBT homeless and at risk of homelessness community support organisation.  The Network has had meetings with AKT in the past few months in regard to the relevant areas of the Network’s LGBTQ+ multi agency, mental health/NHS support orientated homeless and at risk of homelessness and sofa surfing initiative. A number of very positive outcomes concerning this dialogue have emerged, with elements of the Network initiative being viewed by AKT as breaking new ground; we are providing support on these. 

The winding down of a very short-lived BCP Council Homeless Reduction Board diverse communities (particularly both LGBT, and ethnic minorities) and younger homeless community members support sub-group: this development whilst disappointing to the Network, that had for more than a year strongly argued for the BCP Council group to support the Network’s dedicated multiagency initiative due to the exceptional and extreme special factors causing the phenomenon and severity of LGBTQ+ homelessness and sofa surfing.  This was rigorously, albeit politely, refused until the sub-group mentioned was instituted – this has now withered away, with the Network not being informed, nor, we understand, Dorset Race Equality Council.  This experience has reinforced the Network premise that such approaches have not worked, nor will work, and only initiatives of the kind created by the Network take seriously LGBTQ+ lives at risk of or experiencing homelessness.


Network initiative with the Prison Service, through pilot work at HMP & YOI Portland:

The initiative, which features monthly Steering Groups meetings, has continued to witness major advance and improvement for LGBT+ and LGBTQ+ community members at Portland Prison through the Network guided multiple stakeholders ‘joining up’ approach – one outcome was that the prison’s Pride 2022 has made national news within the Prison Service/HMPPS in terms of approach and impact. 

In addition, the Network has been providing multiple forms of support through the steering group monthly meetings and email correspondence on various development and support points, and Network information resources, aspects of which have been aiding group stakeholders at strategic and operational delivery level, are currently being reviewed at national HMPPS level, with a view to final state version being developed with the Network for national use. 

Rwanda human rights organisation – Network MoU/partnership to support LGBT+ human rights development and the LGBT+ and LGBTQ+ community in Rwanda:

Rwanda’s Human Rights First Rwanda Association (HRFRA) contacted the Network in June with the request that we could assist with their LGBTQIA+ community support remit development.  This is a major task, and has been strongly welcomed by the LGBT+ Network for Change, which we are very pleased to announce has just signed a partnership agreement/MoU with HRFRA.

For context on this challenge, and opportunity for delivering meaningful change and improvement, please see this page on Rwanda from the brilliant Equaldex website:  — Rwanda is rated, from an LGBT inclusiveness, equality, and safety point of view as ‘90% Not a Good Place’: this must have been known by senior Home Office Whitehall officials, architects of the Rwanda deportation destination for refugees crossing the English Channel, which is the latest chapter in the human rights abusive UK immigration ‘Hostile Environment.’  It has certainly been widely noted in the UK and international LGBT news media, and by the Network that has done so much to challenge the anti-LGBT dimension of the latter. 

The opportunity to work with HRFRA is therefore an exciting one, and we applaud their courage in wanting to do something about the plight of our LGBT+ and LGBTQ+ community in Rwanda; on this we are going to be providing assistance in a number of areas agreed with HRFRA, such as education, international profiling, mental health impacts of anti-LGBT persecution and prejudice, and solutions to those needs. 

The partnership has an Ireland (as per the Network constitution) as much as UK dimension, something greatly welcomed by HRFRA. 

Commendation of Bournemouth University Events Management Team concerning LGBT+ international film festival

The Network is delighted to provide this commendation statement to our and Dorset Race Equality Council’s, fantastic BU team:

The LGBT+ Network for Change ( wishes to formally commend  Bournemouth University’s Events Management Team for their enablement of the LGBT+ International Film Festival project.  
This was developed at the request of the Network in conjunction with Dorset Race Equality Council ( to enable in the BCP and Dorset area, and nationally, an appropriate educational information initiative that effectively highlights the complex nature of the ethnic minority (including international level and LGBT+ refugee and asylum applicants) LGBT+ & LGBTQ+ ‘intersectional’ community’s experience of prejudice and minimal practical support.  

This LGBT+ community is one of the most, to date, marginalised of all LGBT+ communities, with particularly high experienced poor mental health caused by prejudice and a dire wont of structured, practical easily accessed statutory sector support — for reference, as an example, ethnic minority LGBT+ community members constitute a highly disproportionate percentage of the LGBT+ homeless community. 

The film festival project, as developed by the fantastic — ALL female! — BU Events Management Team, gives both Bournemouth/BCP & Dorset, and Bournemouth University itself, a unique place for building in the 2020s a truly LGBT+  & BAME/BME/ethnic minorities intersectional community welcoming, inclusive, truly Prejudice-Free society and country.  The BU Events Management Team in this are with the Network and DREC literally making history — the project is therefore the start of an exciting new phase of meaningful equality diversity inclusion. 

The project’s timing could not be more appropriate given the grim realities of 2+ decades of brutal oppression of LGBT+ community members in Russia — more LGBT+ community members will be seeking refuge from that land and of course from the Ukraine currently menaced by the regime of the latter.  
This project will help therefore in a tangible way to ensure that such LGBT+ community members come to a UK that is more informed at general public and UK Government given department officials levels about our ethnic minorities – LGBT+ intersectional community’s needs, and indeed courage in the face of particularly intense and often brutal prejudice & persecution. 

Next steps, and thanks to the main funder (National Lottery, Awards for All) of the Network that made our work possible:

Directly, the project will help us with our NHS mental health services (DHC ‘Steps 2 Wellbeing) staff and LGBTQ+ patients support work, with our prisons/Portland Prison/HMPPS, and our LGBTQ+ homeless initiatives as in all three areas the particular additional support and awareness needs of our intersectional community members are especially clear. Finally, we wish to thank the National Lottery (Awards for All) for the crucial role their funding contributed to the project for the Network.

Alan Mercel-Sanca

LGBT+ Network for Change 

This badly needed project has a social media profile — for Twitter, please see:

International Transgender Day of Visibility 2022

The LGBT+ Network for Change is delighted to record our happiness at today’s International Transgender Day of Visibility 2022. This day is particularly important to ALL LGB&T community members because visibility has always been and remains the most important way of calling out transphobia, homophobia and biphobia for what they are. For more on International Transgender Day of Visibility, that was initiated in the USA by our Trans community there in 2009, please see:

In the UK, International Transgender Day of Visibility 2022 has been marked by the history making occasion of the first ever Trans community Member of Parliament (MP) Coming Out — the Network salutes Jamie Wallis MP for his courageous and history-making decision which has made international news, as indicated through this link from The Irish Times:

At the same time it is sad to see that in the UK there still exist MPs that remain in ‘dinosaur-like’ denial of the realities since the beginning of time of the huge diversity of gender, gender identity, and sexual orientation and sexuality:

These medieval perspectives however are increasingly being seen for what they are. As seen in the image above from GCN (Gay Community News [Ireland]) regarding South Dublin County Council the tide of history is on our Trans community’s side:

International Women’s Day 2022 — Network article celebrates the day and why it matters

The LGBT+ Network for Change is very pleased to commemorate International Women’s Day 2022 with this short article. 

International Women’s Day (IWD) was initiated for the first time in 1911 and was instituted for the first time by the United Nations in 1975, with March the 8th being selected for the date for annual worldwide commemoration when the UN General Assembly invited UN members across the world to celebrate the day on March 8th.

For LGBT+ peoples across the globe IWD is important as it not only provides an occasion for the world to recognise that lesbian community members and our Trans women’s community members, be recognised as an important part of this global annual commemoration of the rights of women and their contribution to society, families, arts, culture, belief systems, and history, economies, and in daily life as mothers, partners, daughters, granddaughters, grandmothers, but also because in many ways the struggle for gender equality interconnects closely for that concerning our LGBT+ community. 

The rights and quality of life for all females and that for all LGBT+ people interrelate; many of the same archaic and patriarchal forces that have sought to control, often brutally, and oppress women, are mirrored in the story of LGBT+ people.  Advance on rights, protections, and resolution of needs and issues for one community commonly impact positively on the other.  The story of phenomenal advance of LGBT+ human rights in for example the Republic of Ireland have connected powerfully to rapid advance of women’s human rights such as on contraception and abortion.

The brutal murder of Sarah Everard by a serving UK/Metropolitan police officer in early March 2021 coincided, almost to the day with IWD 2021 (, and subsequent revelations of extreme misogynistic ‘cultures’ in a Met Police unit at Charing Cross Police station, and two years before at a Hampshire Police unit (Basingstoke), combined with the aggressive breaking up by the Met Police of a Sarah Everard vigil (almost all women) soon after, shows how much more needs to be done however.  In the UK police forces examples mentioned the same anti-women cultures included equally virulent homophobic and racist cultures. 

We conclude though on a direct and very positive IWD related story note, from Bournemouth.  The LGBT+ Network for Change is in conjunction with Dorset Race Equality Council, joint client for an exciting LGBT international film festival —   — initiative whose main purpose is to raise awareness of our BAME/ethnic minority LGBT+ Community and its needs and challenges in being heard and in regard to its relationship to broader BAME/ethnic minorities and LGBT+ communities. 

This much needed project is being facilitated by a 12-person Bournemouth University (BU) Events Management Department team is in fact an all-female one.  When the project brief was provided by the Network and DREC to the BU department it was seized on as a particularly important and exciting one, and especially so with the department’s female students, who went on two form a two-part 12 person, all female project delivery team!  This is a striking example of the close affinity that exists between our female community and our LGBT+ one, and illustrates the ‘Ally’ concept in a very effective and dynamic way!

LGBT History Month 2022 ends with Network completing Trustee recruitment preparation + finalisation of ethnic minority LGBTQ+ film season project

The Network has seen the end — 28th February — of LGBT History Month 2022 with two important achievements supportive to our development as an organisation at Pan-British Isles level, and for a major advance in one area of our work.

Trustee recruitment:

The last day of February saw finalisation of a set of Trustee recruitment and code of conduct documents that will assist our development of outreach at Board level for Pan-British Isles organisation growth and consolidation, after the Network’s original largely Dorset area initial six years formative and instructive ‘LGB&T Dorset Equality Network’ phase. We wish to record our appreciation to Network Trustee and Honorary Secretary & Public Relations Officer, Ms Ria Patel for her outstanding work in preparing the set of Trustee recruitment and code of conduct documents, which were approved today, the last day of LGBT History Month 2022.

Film Festival:

We also are pleased to announce on this same auspicious day, the exciting news of completion of preparation for a Network and Dorset Race Equality Council, Bournemouth University (BU) Events Management Team collaborative project.

This involves a Bournemouth area international LGBTQ+ film festival that will look at topics and issues particular to LGBTQ+ community members who are from our ethnic minority communities, and seek to develop a platform for supporting the voice and inclusion in LGBT and ethnic minority communities of the LGBTQ+ ethnic minority intersectional community. We shall provide more news of our film festival collaborative initiative in March: the festival will conclude with discussion events (online and in actual physical locations) in the first week of May.

Network statement on Ukraine invasion

The LGBT Network for Change gives it’s heartfelt solidarity with all of the people of Ukraine at this time of unprovoked aggression and brutality by an external tyrannical regime led by Vladimir Putin.  In Russia and Belorussia for many years, LGBT & LGBTQ+ people have been persecuted, tortured and murdered by populist homophobic, transphobic, and biphobic mobs and bullies, given encouragement to do so by the anti-LGBT oppression of the Putin regime, and its allies in the more extreme element of the Russian Orthodox Church.

Now this culture threatens our LGBT & LGBTQ+ brothers and sisters in Ukraine,  We call on Western governments in general, and the UK Government, and the Government of the Republic of Ireland to in their actions in support of Ukraine and its people, to remember and take clear actions on support for Ukraine’s LGBT & LGBTQ+ community, that will particularly be targeted if the invasion and occupation of Ukraine is completed, 

The Network asks those Western Governments to make provision for potential Ukrainian LGBT & LGBTQ+ refugees and asylum applicants to be given support and protection, and particularly that they do not in the UK face the type of Home Office anti-LGBT ‘hostile environment’ all too well-known established dire record on in regard to genuine applicants from our community (a topic the Network has been now for some years particularly effective in Parliament/Westminster on highlighting.

We call on all UK and Ireland LGBT organisations and community groups to provide their support and solidarity with Ukraine and the LGBT & LGBTQ+ community.

The Network will be ready to make representations, such as to the UK Home Office and Foreign Affairs Commonwealth and Development Department where and if needed on this very serious crisis and matter.

LGBT History Month 2022 – LGBT+ Network for Change article for Dorset Race Equality Council

Celebrating LGBT History Month 2022: What LGBT History Month is and why it matters regarding BAME and LGBT+ communities interaction – a short article by the LGBT+ Network for Change

The LGBT+ Network for Change — — (LGB&T Dorset Equality Network), is pleased to provide this article for Dorset Race Equality Council (DREC) on the occasion of LGBT History Month 2022.  The theme of this year’s LGBT History Month is Art. 

We wish to on this occasion, record on an this year’s LGBT History Month theme of the Arts, to provide reference to another direct, meaningful, project in the education (FE) sector that has lead to true and very positive change, including from its local Bournemouth and Poole origins leading to national level influence. 

Concerning this, this year marks ten years since the ‘Time for Change – NOW! Anti-Homophobia Olympics Legacy Exhibition Project’ — — took place.

This project took place in 2012 at Bournemouth & Poole College’s Art & Design Department (North Road Campus) with subsequently the Network’s principal initiator, Alan Mercel-Sanca, as the client: the exhibition went on to achieve national level importance, including featuring the pull up panels designed by the 25+ BPC Arts & Design Department students under the brilliant guidance of the department’s teachers and lecturers, at the National Football Museum in Manchester, and inspiring the Stonewall organisation in aspects of their work. This project transformed the college’s support and engagement on LGBT and LGBTQ engagement and support, leading as well to extensive mental health benefits for those taking part and across most of the BCP staff and students community.

We conclude this article with an Arts theme, in announcing news of a project, about to commence, that is a true successor of the Bournemouth & Poole College exhibition project. 

The Network is therefore delighted to announce that we are working with Bournemouth University, through its Events Management team on a new LGBT+ inclusion and anti-prejudice arts related educational project.  This concerns work we are currently undertaking with our friends at Dorset Race Equality Council (DREC) on profiling the special support needs and counteraction of anti-LGBT prejudice and racism challenges our Black And Minority Ethnic (BAME) LGBT+ community face. 

The benefits of the project will involve combined DREC and Network support to our pan-Dorset BAME LGBT community, with the initiative having broader potential national level importance. At more detailed real day to day life level the project will lead to seeing through this collaborative Network – DREC initiative, progressively at workplace (such in NHS hospitals, in offices, in shops, etc.) structured support, signposting, and consultation on policy and performance of local authorities and public service organisations regarding BAME LGBT community members needs, and of course related broader education initiatives such as the BU project exemplifies.

Sharing between the two Protected Characteristic communities what their respective experiences of discrimination and prejudice are, provides a valuable broadening of perspectives which is effective in counteracting prejudice and discrimination across minorities and in regard to the particular issues and needs of this ‘intersectional’ community.

Please watch the LGBT+ Network for Change and DREC websites for more news in the coming weeks!

LGBT+ Network for Change

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